World View: Reports Indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia Planning Military Action in Libya

Reuters

Reuters

Breitbart, by JOHN J. XENAKIS, March 1, 2015:

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya
  • Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization
  • Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

Reports indicate Egypt, Italy, Russia planning military action in Libya

Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)
Russian warships in the Mediterranean (Russia Today)

Various unconfirmed reports are emerging indicating that there may be joint international action planned in Libya as early as next week.

Egypt is already conducting air strikes against ISIS-linked targets in Derna, close to where Egyptian Coptics were massacred recently, as displayed in a gruesome video. Debka reports that Egypt’s president Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi is planning further action in Libya, including more air strikes and possible ground troops, within a few days. According to the report, Egyptian commando and marine forces are preparing for sea landings to seize Derna and destroy the terrorist elements there. If this attack is actually launched, it will be the first time in modern times that an Arab country has sent ground forces into another Arab country.

Al-Jazeera television reports that the Italian navy is getting ready to carry off sophisticated military drills off the coast of Libya as early as Monday. Although Italy claims that it will be a regular exercise, there are many more vessels taking part in this year’s exercise than have in the past, which Italy explains by saying that they are testing out sophisticated new technologies.

There are several reasons why Italy is pursuing this show of force:

  • Italy considers the flood of migrants from Libya into Italy to be an existential threat to Italy itself, because there may be ISIS-trained terrorists smuggled in, along with the other migrants. Italy may be planning some kind of military action in Libya in conjunction with Egypt’s air strikes and other operations.
  • The GreenStream pipeline is a gas pipeline running underneath the Mediterranan Sea from Libya to Sicily. The pipeline is vital to economic relations between Italy and Libya. In recent months, there have been attacks by gunmen on oil installations in Libya, forcing some ports to shut down. The new show of naval force may be related to threats of attack or sabotage on the pipeline.
  • For over a year, Italy ran a search and rescue program called “Mare Nostrum” (“Our Sea”) that saved the lives of thousands of migrants attempting to travel from Libya to Italy. This program required Italian naval vessels near the Libyan coast. In November, the program ended and an EU program called Triton replaced it, but Triton restricts its operations to only 30 miles off the Italian coast. Triton has been considered unsatisfactory because many more migrants are drowning. Italy’s new show of naval force may be an attempt to restore a portion of the Mare Nostrum program.
  • Related to the last point, on Saturday there were large demonstrations in Rome by Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League party for the government to do more to keep immigrants out. The naval show of force may help to mollify the protestors.

Some reports indicate that Russia has hinted at a willingness to participate in a naval blockade of Libya to prevent arm supplies from leaving Libya for other countries. Russia could play a role in this because it already has a naval fleet in the Mediterranean.

These are all unconfirmed reports of possible military action in Libya by Egypt, Italy and Russia. There are no reports of possible participation by Nato or the United States. Debkaand Cairo Post

Egypt court declares Hamas to be a terrorist organization

Egypt on Saturday became the first Arab country to name Hamas as a terrorist organization. The U.S. and the European Union have named Hamas as a terror group. An EU court took Hamas off the list in December 2014, ruling that the designation was not based on solid legal evidence, but the EU is appealing the court’s decision.

According to a decision on Saturday from the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters:

It has been proven without any doubt that the movement has committed acts of sabotage, assassinations and the killing of innocent civilians and members of the armed forces and police in Egypt.

It has been also ascertained with documents that [Hamas] has carried out bombings that have taken lives and destroyed institutions and targeted civilians and the armed forces personnel. It has also been ascertained that this movement works for the interests of the terrorist Brotherhood organization [which Egypt has already declared to be a terrorist organization].

About a month ago, the same court declared Hamas’s military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, to be a terrorist organization. Saturday’s ruling makes the political wing a terrorist organization as well.

A Hamas spokesman denied all the charges and said that the ruling was “dangerous”:

History has recorded Egypt’s support to national liberty movements in the Arab world and Africa, particularly in Palestine. … This ruling serves the Israeli occupation. It’s a politicized decision that constitutes the beginning of Egypt evading its role toward the Palestinian cause. This is a coup against history and an Egyptian abuse of the Palestinian cause and resistance, which fights on behalf of the Arab nation. We call on Egypt to reconsider this dangerous decision.

Al Jazeera and Al Ahram (Cairo) and CS Monitor and Al Resalah (Palestine)

Egypt and Turkey may try to create a ‘Sunni front’ with Saudi Arabia

By coincidence or by planning, the presidents of both Egypt and Turkey will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, this week. Egypt’s Abdel al-Fattah al-Sisi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan will both be visiting King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud, the new king of Saudi Arabia, who has replaced King Abdullah, who died last month.

It is not known whether Erdogan will ever be in the same room as al-Sisi. The two have been bitter enemies ever since a coup by al-Sisi ousted Egypt’s elected president Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, and later declared MB to be a terrorist organization. Erdogan’s own political party, the AKP, is an Islamist party like the Muslim Brotherhood, and they had good relations while Morsi was in power.

There has been some speculation that King Salman is going to completely reverse King Abdullah’s policy on the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) had branded MB as a terrorist organization, but some are wondering if Salman is going to shift from that policy. The Saudi foreign minister recently said that his government has “no problem with the Muslim Brotherhood; our problem is with a small group affiliated to the organization,” suggesting that shift is in the works.

Other problems make an Egypt-Turkey rapprochement unlikely: Erdogan vitriolicly hates Israel and supports Hamas. Al-Sisi vitriolicly hates Hamas and works closely with Israel on military matters, especially in North Sinai. It does n0t seem likely that any meeting, if one even occurs, will be pleasant.

If King Salman is able to pull off a miracle and mediate a new relationship between Egypt and Turkey, then it would appear to be the establishment of a new “Sunni front” in the Mideast, to oppose Iran, Hezbollah and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Al Arabiya and Kurdistan and Arab Times

Disturbing Questions Lurk Behind Dutch “Jihad Galas”

by Abigail R. Esman
Special to IPT News
February 27, 2015

1140It’s hard enough choosing the right gown for the Oscars, the prettiest frock for Junior Prom. But how do you select the burqa that best befits a jihadi gala?

Two such soirees, ostensibly being staged to raise money for humanitarian aid to Syria, Palestine, and elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia, have raised controversy in the Netherlands in recent weeks. Nicknamed “jihad galas” by local media, both events have been forced to revamp their programs and venues after the government raised concerns about several of their invited speakers.

In the process, heightened focus on the two organizations has helped unveil a web of secrecy and deceit behind many such endeavors and the people who support them.

The first event, tentatively scheduled to take place in Utrecht on March 1, aims to raise funds for World Wide Relief (WWR), a Dutch-based organization that supports children in Syria, among others. The other, originally set for March 8 in Rijswijk and now planned as a live-stream event to be broadcast from an undisclosed location, will benefit Holland’s Rohamaa Foundation, a self-described “Islamic-inspired” charity that aids communities in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Southern Turkey.

But according to a number of reports, the two groups, which claim to have each raised hundreds of thousands of euros from Dutch Muslims, have links to Salafist preachers and supporters of ISIS and al-Qaida. Several of those preachers were invited to speak at the galas, including some from the Middle East who received visas from the Dutch government to do so. Immediately, concerned Parliament members, armed with information provided by the National Coordinator for Counter-terrorism (NCTV), protested, successfully demanding that the visas be rescinded in light of the imams’ anti-Western, Salafist profiles. The uproar has led to changes in plans for both galas, though Rohamaa has hinted that its invited speakers will still be heard via the live-stream broadcast.

While the government has not banned either event from taking place (Rohamaa itself made the decision to hold the event online), the controversy surrounding the two galas has set off heated debates about the meaning of “free expression” in the current climate: If you allow Charlie Hebdo‘s provocative content, shouldn’t you also allow the anti-Western tirades of Salafist imams? If not, why not?

The question touches on a highly sensitive issue that has long raised hackles even among members of the United Nations: Resolution 16/18, an initiative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which bans speech that would be construed as “incitement to imminent violence,” received U.S. approval in 2011.

The problem with this argument, and with Resolution 16/18, is that the Mohammed cartoons do not, in themselves, incite violence, however much some Muslims might insist otherwise. They are simply used that way by religious fanatics and Islamists whose twisted logic determines that anger and insult are reason enough to justify violent behavior.

The speakers invited to the Dutch galas, on the other hand, include Egyptian imam Wahid Baali, who has decried the killing of Osama bin Laden, and Saudi Sheikh Assim al-Hakeem, known for supporting the execution of Christians and Jews who insult the prophet Mohammed, and for his conviction that women are obliged to serve the sexual needs of their husbands. (Al-Hakeem was among those whose visas were rescinded.)

Rohamaa invitee Muhammad Hussan has referred to Jews as “those hateful and disgusting creatures.” He also owns  Al-Rhama TV, whose programming, according to MEMRI, frequently exhorts Muslims to annihilate the Jews. If you’re looking for speech that “incites violence,” it would be hard to find better examples than these.

WWR in particular seems to have forged a strong and intricate network among the stars of Salafist activity. In addition to partnering with al-Hakeem and Baali, WWR founder Abou Hafs has also chummed up with  the Belgian extremist Tarik Chadlioui, aka Tarik ibn Ali, considered one of the top fundraisers for Salafist causes in Europe. Just last year, Ronald Sandee, a former Dutch secret service official, described Chadlioui as “one of the most important influences behind the now-banned organizations Sharia4Belgium and the German Millatu Ibrahim, as well as the Dutch Sharia4Holland. He has many contacts via social media with young men from Belgium, Holland, and Germany who have joined the jihad in Syria.”

World Wide Relief is also frequently praised on Dutch jihadists’ web sites, according to Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Even Hafs, the NRC reports, has been known to praise Dutch Muslims who travel to Syria to join the jihad. The father of 19-year-old Dutch suicide bomber Sultan Berzel, who blew himself up in Baghdad, killing 20 others, has accused him of spreading “IS ideology.”

In speeches across the country, Hafs calls on fellow Muslims to resist the influence of “kuffars” (unbelievers) and to separate themselves from Dutch society or secularism by refusing to vote in Dutch elections.

But if that’s not enough to keep you from ordering up your Albert Nipon  niqab, your abaya by Alaia and sending in your contributions to the cause, try this: no one really seems to know exactly what Rohamaa and  World Wide Relief fund actually do with their donations.

Though Rohamaa claims to work through Allah “in an Islamic way,” it seems to do so secretively: its website provides no information about its officers or administrators, let alone its financial activities. (A button for “sponsors” on its home page is inactive.) And no reports seem to be available on its finances, beyond the basic banking information one would need to wire a donation.

The same seems to be true of World Wide Relief. An extensive investigation by theNRC Handelsblad revealed that the organization consistently failed to submit annual reports of its activities as required by law. There may be a reason for this: based on what information is available on the charity’s website, Roland Sandee, now the chief global jihad analyst for the Kronos Advisory think tank, calculated that only half of the €150,000 allegedly devoted to humanitarian aid in Syria had actually been spent – though details about the use of those funds are lacking. What happened to the other €75,000 is a mystery. This, while dozens of European Muslims head off to Syria in the guise of “humanitarian aid.” In fact, says the NRC, many fundraisers for such organizations themselves eventually “show up in Syria as jihadists.” Officials who spoke to the NRC also noted that, “A portion of the collected funds [of these charities] is likely given to non-humanitarian causes.”

At the Oscars, at least, no matter what you wear, you know who the winners are.   What’s clear about these galas is we’re the ones who lose.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

Syria’s Civil War Could Stabilize Its Region

by Daniel Pipes
The Washington Times
February 26, 2015

Population shifts resulting from Syria’s four-year long civil war have profoundly changed Syria and its three Arabic-speaking neighbors: Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Turkey and Israel have changed too, but less so.) Ironically, amid tragedy and horror, as populations adapt to the brutal imperatives of modern nationalism, all four countries are becoming a bit more stable. That’s because the fighting has pushed peoples to move from ethnic minority status to ethnic majority status, encouraging like to live with like.

Before looking at each country, some background:

First, along with the Balkans, the Middle East contains the most complex and unsettled ethnic, religious, linguistic, and national mix in the world. It’s a place where cross-border alliances deeply complicate local politics. If the Balkans set off World War I, the Middle East might well spark World War III.

Second, historic tensions between the two main Muslim sects, Sunni and Shi’i, had largely subsided before Ayatollah Khomeini’s rise to power in 1979. Driven by Tehran’s aggression, they have since flared anew.

 

The brutal 8-year war, 1980-88 between Iran and Iraq did much to exacerbate Sunni-Shi’i hostility.

Third, the imperialist European powers nearly ignored the identity of the peoples living in the Middle East as they defined most of the region’s borders. Instead, they focused on rivers, ports, and other resources that served their economic interests. Today’s jumble of somewhat randomly-defined countries (e.g., Jordan) is the result.

Finally, Kurds were the major losers a century ago; lacking intellectuals to make their case, they found themselves divided among four different states and persecuted in them all. Today, they are organized for independence.

Returning to Syria and its Arab neighbors (and drawing on Pinhas Inbari’s “Demographic Upheaval: How the Syrian War is Reshaping the Region“):

Syria and Iraq have undergone strikingly similar developments. After the demise of monstrous dictators in 2000 and 2003, each has broken into the same three ethnic units – Shi’i Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurd. Tehran dominates both Shi’i-oriented regimes, while several Sunni-majority states (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar) back the Sunni rebels. The Kurds have withdrawn from the Arab civil wars to build their own autonomous areas. Once-ambitious dictatorships barely sustain functioning foreign policies. Also, the century-old boundary separating Syria and Iraq has largely vanished.

Syria: The part of Syria still ruled by Bashar al-Assad is becoming more Shi’i. An estimated half of the pre-war Syrian population of 22 million has been driven from its homes; of them, the 3 million refugees, mostly Sunni, who fled the country are unlikely to return both because of the continuing civil war and the Assad regime’s revocation of their citizenship. The regime appears also to have intentionally reduced its control over the area near the border with Jordan to encourage Sunnis to flee Syria. In another ploy to increase the Shi’i population, reports indicate it has welcomed and re-settled about 500,000 Iraqi Shi’is, conferring Syrian citizenship on some.

 

Bashar al-Assad must have been a better ophthalmologist than dictator.

Iraq: The Syrian civil war provided the Islamic State (or ISIS/ISIL) with an opportunity to move into Iraq, seizing such cities as Fallujah and Mosul, leading to an exodus of non-Sunnis (especially Shi’is and Yazidis), and remaking Iraq along ethnic lines. Given the country’s intermingled population, especially in the Baghdad area, it will be years – perhaps decades – before the sides sort themselves out. But the process appears inexorable.

Lebanon: Sunnis are growing more powerful, beating back the Iranian influence. The million new Sunni refugees from Syria now constitute 20 percent of the country’s population, roughly doubling the Sunni community. Also, Hizbullah, the dominant Shi’i organization in Lebanon, is neglecting its own constituency and losing influence domestically by fighting on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria.

 

Hizbullah militiamen in Syria reduces the group’s influence in its home country, Lebanon.

Jordan: The recent influx of Syrian refugees follows an earlier wave of approximately one million Iraqi refugees. Together, the two groups have lowered the percentage of Palestinians in Jordan to the point that the latter probably no longer constitute a majority of the country’s population, a shift with major political implications. For one, it reduces the potential Palestinian threat to the Hashemite monarchy; for another, it undermines the Jordan-is-Palestine argument championed by some Israelis.

In brief, Iraq and Syria are devolving into their constituent religious and ethnic parts, Lebanon is becoming more Sunni, and Jordan less Palestinian. However gruesome the human cost of the Syrian civil war, its long-term impact potentially renders the Middle East a less combustible place, one less likely to trigger World War III.

Jihadi John Identified as Mohammed Emwazi

February 26, 2015 / /

Mohammed Emwazi was born in Kuwait in 1988 and moved to the UK in 1994. He was raised in a middle class family in Queens Park, London, UK. He is also graduated from the University of Westminster with a degree in computer programming in 2009. Emwazi’s family was at least considered lower middle class and some reporting states upper middle class. This puts him a far cry from the underprivileged stereotype that US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf calls underprivileged without opportunity individual.

Jihadi John aloneMohammed Emwazi AKA: Jihad John

Source: ISIS Study Group

Emwazi already had terrorist associations dating back to at least 2005 as a small group of people he was associated with had links to individuals that were linked to personalities involved in the attempted 21 July 2005 subway bombings in London. He became noticed after his association with Bilal el-Berjawi became known. Bilal el-Berjawi was already a known terrorism personality associated with Al Shabaab in UK circles before his death in a US drone strike in Somalia. Emwazi himself attempted to travel to Tanzania and is believed to have been attempting to join or train with Somalia based Al Shabaab.

Mohammed Emwazi also has an alias Muhammad ibn Muazzam which he was identified under in 2010 by the Independent (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html). This is also something that is associated with terrorist activity and he had done this while traveling to Tanzania in August 2009. The infamous Jihad John has numerous connections to terrorist personalities in Al Shabaab or sympathizers in the UK.

An associate of Emwazi trained with Al Shabaab in 2007 and was under the program TPIMS (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures). Ibrahim Magag was a known financier and forged passports. TPIMS is a program that involves restrictions including overnight residence at a specified address, GPS tracking, reporting requirements, restrictions on travel, movement and association, communication, finance, work and study. Magag was able to escape by taking a taxi. His whereabouts are unknown and is possible and likely he left the country. His ability to forge passports definitely could have assisted in the ability exit the country.

Police Launch Manhunt for ‘Terror Suspect’ Who Went Missing on Boxing Day…While Under Close Surveillance

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2255394/Ibrahim-Magag-Police-launch-manhunt-terror-suspect-went-missing-Boxing-Day–close-surveillance.html

Ibrahim Magag, 28, absconded from a terrorism prevention and investigation measure noticeIbrahim Magag

Source: The Guardian

Two more associates were of high enough value to have been targets in US drone strikes in Somalia. Bilal el-Berjawi and Mohamed Sakr were also associated with Mohammed Emwazi while he lived in the UK. Bilal el-Berjawi was a senior Al Qaeda operative in the Somalia region and fought with AL Shabaab. He had traveled between terrorist organizations in Africa and the UK at least five times before having his citizenship revoked in 2010. He and Sakr had traveled to Kenya in 2009, but were sent back to the UK under investigation and then Sakr fled the UK in October 2009.

Terrorist Who Radicalized ISIS Executioner Jihadi John Passed Freely Between UK and African Terror Hot Spots for Three Years

http://www.capitalbay.com/news/733232-terrorist-who-radicalised-isis-executioner-jihadi-john-passed-freely-between-uk-and-african-terror-hot-spots-for-three-years.html

261E8D3C00000578-2970392-Bilal_al_Berjawi_Capitalbay

Bilal el-Berjawi

Source: Capital Bay

Bilal was associated with a key figure in the 1998 East Africa Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Bilal was a recruiter and trainer for Al Shabaab and likely a commander at the time of his death in January 2012 in the vicinity of Mogadishu. Mohamed Sakr was killed by another drone strike in Somalia in February 2012.

British Al Qaeda Member Killed in US Drone Attack in Somalia

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jan/22/british-al-qaida-suspect-drone-somalia

Mohamed Sakr-thebureauinvestigatesMohamed Sakr

Source: The Bureau Investigates

Emwazi’s computer programming skills are also something that sets him apart from the unskilled, uneducated individual Ms Harf talked about. His technical skills are likely involved in the production of the horrid execution videos that he stars in. He is more than the “star” of these gruesome productions, he likely is acting in a directorial capacity as well as editing the final production. There is a strong possibility that he is directly associated with Ahmed Abousamra that is a key figure in the Al Hayat Media Center. Jihad John is more like a public spokesperson than he is anything else. That is why he appears in the videos so frequently or does voice overs for them.

There is a high probability that if Jihad John is located that key figures within Al Hayat Media Center may be in close proximity such as Ahmed Abousamra making Jihad John an even higher value target. Abousamra is a central figure in the social media and propaganda machine of the Islamic State and they likely collaborate in some fashion on the productions.

The Man Behind the ISIS Media Curtain Ahmad Abousamra

The Coalition Forces should stop being concerned with bringing him to justice through a court system and should be more concerned with his direct elimination. He has been located on more than one instance by an armed unmanned aerial vehicle which could have launched a hellfire missile to kill the terrorist spokesperson. Mohammed Emwazi is not a criminal he is a terrorist combatant regardless if he takes part in actual fighting. It is highly doubtful he takes place in any actual combat as their other spokesman Abu Mousa who was killed in combat at Taqba Air Base in Syria.

Taqba Air Base and The Death of Abu Mousa

The Islamic State isn’t likely to take the chance of losing their posterchild for recruiting and propaganda in combat action as they lost Abu Mousa shortly after his remarks about flying the flag of the Islamic State over the White House. He died like a week later. Jihad John may play tough guy on the screen but he is likely not such a tough guy off the screen.

He was earlier identified as former British Rapper Abdel-Majed Bary shortly after the first execution video came out of American journalist James Foley. Several images reportedly showed Bary holding images of him holding a severed head in Raqqa, Syria where the Islamic State had massacred Syrian military personnel and placed 50 of their heads on a fence in town center. There was some speculation that this was not the same person as in the execution videos as Jihad John has a lazy left eye. Sometimes so lazy it looks as if he can’t keep it open.

Connections to Emwazi before his move to Syria in 2012 were to Al Shabaab figures and likely the organization itself prior to the harassment he was supposed to have endured on his trip to Tanzania. The connections to Abousamra and Islamic State came in 2012 after he joined the terror organization in 2012. As we have pointed out in previous articles the Islamic State makes assessments of recruits based on not only their potential fighting skills, but also their technical skills. Emwazi’s computer technical skills likely scored him a non fighting position within the organization and has made him a death cult start within its ranks and to potential new recruits. A spokesman for CAGE had tried stating that Emwazi was driven to radicalization due to harassment by MI5, but as we have shown his ties to known terrorist personalities date back to as early as 2005, but he came up on the radar in 2009.

Jihad John Connections

Mohammed Emwazi connections

Source: The ISIS Study Group

Foley Executioner Identified as abdel-Majed Abdel Bary

Links to Related Articles:

British Muslims on Safari Stopped by MI5

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-on-safari-stopped-by-mi5-1959610.html

ISIS Militant ‘Jihadi John’ Identified, US Officials Say

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/middleeast/isis-jihadi-john-identity/index.html

ISIS Hammers Christian Towns in Syria for Third Day

REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS

REUTERS/UMIT BEKTAS

Breitbart, by Katie Gorka, Feb. 25, 2015:

Today marks the third day in ISIS’ latest offensive against a string of Christian towns and villages in northeast Syria. According to Aziz Mirza, with the Syriac Cultural Association, speaking from Qamishli by phone today, ISIS is continuing to push forward in trying to take control of this predominantly Assyrian Christian region.

Mirza said an estimated 350-400 people are missing from 12 different villages, but it has been very difficult to confirm those numbers because all cell phones appear to be confiscated. When relatives have tried calling, members of ISIS answer the phones, Mirza said.

Kurdish and Christian fighters have been working together for the past year and half to protect this area from ISIS. The Christian fighters, who operate as the Syriac Military Council, had forces in 3 villages: Tel Hormizd, at the southern end of the Khabur valley, Tel Shamiram, at the northern end, and Tel Tawil on the northeast flank. The SMC and Kurdish (YPG) forces had been there since Feb 7, but with the pre-dawn attack that was launched on February 23rd, ISIS has now retaken control. So far, the Syriac Military Council has lost four fighters with another 12 deaths suspected but not yet confirmed.

ISIS is currently focusing its efforts on the town of Tel Tamar, which is the regional center. Yesterday, ISIS set off three car bombs just outside the barricades protecting Tel Tamar, near where the Syriac Military Council forces and Kurdish forces are headquartered. There were no casualties. Mirza also said that fighting ebbed somewhat on Tuesday because of heavy rains, but today, February 25, it was back at full force.

In a separate phone call, Sewerios Malke from the Syriac Military Council confirmed that ISIS is still trying to take control of the region and that they are trying to cross the Khabur river. The Kurdish and Syriac forces have been able to hold them back so far but it is uncertain how much longer that can last. He estimates the number of ISIS fighters at several thousand.

According to a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release, U.S. and coalition military forces have carried out airstrikes in the Khabur River region where this fighting is going on. Between 8 a.m. yesterday (Feb 24) and 8 a.m. today (Feb 25), local time, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Syria:

  • Near Hasakah, three airstrikes struck an ISIL vehicle.
  • Near Kobani, six airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, an ISIL fighting position and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions.
AINA Media

AINA Media

However, both Malke and Mirza asserted that there were no airstrikes in the Khabur region, only further south, 22 kilometers below Qamishli. The stark contrast between the stories of hundreds or even thousands of ISIS fighters attacking villages, taking as many as 400 hostages, and three U.S. airstrikes in the same region that struck only one vehicle, suggests the U.S. may be missing the target.

Some have argued that without troops, or at least advisors, on the ground, there is insufficient intelligence to guide airstrikes. In addition, representatives of the Syriac forces have been making the case in Washington for the past several years that their location in Syria made them particularly vulnerable to attack by ISIS and they could be key players in the fight against ISIS. They were therefore lobbying to be included in the equipping and training of opposition forces in Syria. The State Department has confirmed that the Syriac forces were not included in the first round of training.

Katie Gorka is the president of the Council on Global Security. @katharinegorka.

Also see:

War on Christians: ISIS Goes on Church-Burning and Kidnapping Spree in Syria

Fighters from ISIS parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armoured vehicle in Mosul, Iraq, last year. ISIS militants have abducted at least 70 Assyrian Christians in Syria. (Associated Press)

Fighters from ISIS parade in a commandeered Iraqi security forces armoured vehicle in Mosul, Iraq, last year. ISIS militants have abducted at least 70 Assyrian Christians in Syria. (Associated Press)

Breitbart, by Katie Gorka, Feb. 24, 2015:

After the reports of attacks against Christian in Syria, Katie Gorka, President of the Council on Global Security, spoke directly to representatives of the Assyrian community currently under attack:

Around 4:00 in the morning on Monday, February 23rd, an estimated 1500 ISIS fighters attacked a series of Christian towns in northeast Syria, burning churches, taking as many as 90 hostages, and forcing hundreds to flee from their homes.

According to reports from the Syriac Military Council, a Christian self-defense organization, when ISIS fighters attacked the town of Tel Shamiram, they separated out the men, around 50 of whom they have taken into the mountains, and approximately 90 women and children are being held prisoner in the village by ISIS militants. Some residents were able to flee and they are currently sheltering in churches in Al-Hassaka and Al-Qamishli. According to one source, ISIS has taken 30 Christian young women and plans to distribute them as concubines in the town of Shadadeh.

Bassam Ishak, president of the Syriac National Council of Syria, has made several recent visits to Washington, D.C. warning of the potential for these attacks and asking for U.S. support. He said Hassaka would no doubt be targeted because it separates ISIS in Syria from ISIS in Iraq. Ishak said that the Syriac Military Council had about 1100 troops, but weapons for only 500. The area is being defended by militia that include the Syriac Military Council (MFS), Christian police (Sutoro), the Khabur Guards, and the Kurdish People Protection Units (YPG).

His Grace Mar Awa Royel, Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, Diocese of California, spoke earlier today with the Assyrian Bishop in the area where the attacks have taken place. Bishop Royel reported the following:

I was in contact around 3:00 a.m. this morning with our bishop who is in Hassaka. Over 400 families from the region of Khabour fled to Hassaka. They were brought to the cathedral. Bishop Afram Athneil received them. Initially they were housed in the church hall and in the bishop’s residence. Now they have been put up in homes in Hassaka and Qamishli. Qamishli is under the control of the government but Hassaka is not. The biggest fear is that ISIS is going to overrun the city of Hassaka which is where many Christians are now seeking protection. ISIS is attacking there because the Christians are there and Arab and Kurdish militia are there.

According to Bishop Afrem, the fighting began around 4:00 am Monday morning in the town of Tel Talmar, which is the regional center. The fighting became very intense and ISIS systematically began to take village by village along this 35 kilometer stretch of the Khabour River, all of which are populated by Assyrian Christians. In Tel Shamiram, 50 families have been taken out of their homes, the women and children are being kept in the school, and the village church has been burned. ISIS is saying they want to use the Christians as pawns in exchange for detainees.

In another village, Tel Hormizd, about 12-14 villagers were kidnapped and taken out of the village and nothing has been heard from them. The church there has also been burned down. 200 people were fleeing by car and bus from another village which the Bishop did not want to name in order to protect their flight. Tel Goran was also taken by ISIS and the fighting is currently heavy.

Bishop Royel has said the people of the region are desperate for help and he is asking American churches and Christians to condemn these latest actions of ISIS and to call on President Obama for immediate help to the region.

It is alleged that the Obama Administration did not include Christians from the north eastern region of Syria that is now under attack in its first round of training programs to train and equip the so-called moderate opposition forces. Whether Christians will be included in future training initiatives has not been determined.

Humanitarian assistance to the Christians under siege in northeast Syria can be donated through the Assyrian Church of the East Relief Organization (ACERO).

Katie Gorka is the president of the Council on Global Security. Follow her at @katharinegorka.

Also see:

Islamic State Torches Churches, Takes 200 Christian Hostages, Western Forces Present Do Nothing

By Raymond Ibrahim, Feb.24, 2015:

In the early hours of Monday, February 23, Islamic State fighters attacked several Christian villages along the Khabur River in north eastern Syria. As many as 200 Christians—including women and children—were taken hostage.  Their families fear that they will either be sold as slaves and/or raped, or simply massacred, as many other Christian hostages of the Islamic State have been—most recently the 21 Coptic martyrs in Libya.

Several churches were also torched or damaged during the jihadi raid, including the church in Tel Hurmiz, one of the oldest churches in Syria, the Mar Bisho church in Tel Shamiran, the church in Qabr Shamiy and the church in Tel Baloua.

And, perhaps worst of all,this raid “brought to light deplorable conduct on the part of other persons,” namely the West.  According to Archbishop Hindo:

I wish to say quite clearly that we have the feeling of being abandoned into the hands of ISIS.  Yesterday American bombers flew over the area several times, but without taking action. We have a hundred Assyrian families who have taken refuge in Hassakè, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or from Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The UN high commission for Refugees is nowhere to be seen.

BREAKING: Islamic State Attacks Assyrian Christian Villages in Northern Syria, Taking Captives and Torching Churches

PJ Media, by Patrick Poole, Feb. 24, 2015:

Breaking news late yesterday and this morning bring reports of an assault by the Islamic State in Northern Syria targeting Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabour River that began early yesterday morning. Other reports indicate that ISIS has taken captives and torched several churches, including one of the most ancient churches in Syria, and hundreds fleeing the area downriver to Hassake. ISIS is meeting resistance from Christian and Kurdish militias.

European Syriac Union rights activist and journalist David Vergili reports:

Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabour river in the Hassake region are under heavy attacks of ISIS. Hundred of people left the region and number of women and children have been kidnapped by ISIS. Clashes continue between MFS, YPG against ISIS.

On Monday around 5am ISIS carried out an attack on the Assyrian villages in the Khabour region leaving casualties and another exodus of Christians from the region. ISIS attacks are concentrated in the Khabour villages of Til Hirmis, Til Shamiram, Qabre Shamiye and Til Khebish. Local sources confirm that there are ongoing clashes in all front lines against ISIS. Various reports suggest casualties of civilians and burning of churches.

A Demand For Action, another Christian rights organization, published this map to show the area of activity:

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The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported late last night of captives taken and churches torched by ISIS (Warning: graphic images at link):

ISIS has abducted dozens of Assyrian men, women and children, including 12 from Tel Hurmiz, 15 from Tel Goran. They have been brought to Jabal Abdul Aziz. The residents of the villages of Tel Shamiran (approximately 50) and Tel Jazira (about 40) are being held captive in their own villages by ISIS.

According to a report by Newsweek, ISIS will use the Assyrian hostages for a prisoner swap with Kurdish fighters.

A number of churches have been destroyed, including the church in Tel Hurmiz, one of the oldest churches in Syria, the Mar Bisho church in Tel Shamiran, the church in Qabr Shamiy and the church in Tel Baloua.

The Newsweek report referenced above cited threats made against the lives of the captured Christian villagers if a prisoner exchange doesn’t happen:

The terrorist organization demanded a prisoner exchange with Kurdish fighters; they are seeking the release of ISIS members in exchange for the villagers. The exact number of prisoners ISIS is looking to swap for is not known. They have threatened the lives of the village men, estimated to be more than 100, if the swap does not go through.

A Reuters report published this morning provides a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that ISIS has taken at least 90 captives and notes the strategic importance of the area for Kurdish and Christian militias, as well for ISIS:

Syrian Kurdish militia have renewed their assault on the militants, launching two offensives against them in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped from U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga who have been shelling Islamic State-held territory from their side of the nearby border.

This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where last year the ultra-hardline group committed atrocities against the Yazidi community.

Tel Tamr, a town near the Assyrian Christian villages where the abductions occurred, has witnessed heavy clashes between Islamic State fighters and the Kurdish YPG militia, the Observatory said.

Here are some related tweets with information on refugees and the militia response to the ISIS attack. Follow David Vergili and A Demand For Action on Twitter for updates.

civilians fleeing Tell Hamis

Assyrians flee Khabour

save Assyria tweet

Christian fighter

Christian militia

Read more

Revoke US Citizenship from Americans Who Join ISIS

A bus en route from Sofia to Istanbul goes through passport control on the Turkish side of the border at Kapikule. PHOTO: DANIELLA ZALCMAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

A bus en route from Sofia to Istanbul goes through passport control on the Turkish side of the border at Kapikule. PHOTO: DANIELLA ZALCMAN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

CSP, by Fred Fleitz, Feb. 23, 2015:

The French and Australian governments have taken aggressive steps to protect its citizens from so-called home grown terrorists who travel to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.  It is time for the United States to implement similar measures.

Over the weekend, the French government for the first time seized the passports of six French citizens who allegedly were planning to travel to Syria to join ISIS and banned 40 more from leaving the country.

France’s top court ruled late last month that the government could strip French citizenship from naturalized French citizens convicted of terrorism charges.  This decision will allow the government to withdraw French citizenship and passports from dual nationality jihadists who immigrated to France from north Africa and the Middle East.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott plans to strip Australian citizenship from dual nationals who return to his country after fighting for ISIS.   The Australian government may also suspend or withdraw citizenship from natural-born Australians who fought for ISIS.  Canada and the UK have laws on the books to do this but reportedly have not used them yet.

An estimated 20,000 foreigners have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS.  3,400 of them are Europeans; about 100 are Americans.  The Wall Street Journal reported today that European ISIS recruits are beginning to take steps to evade stepped-up security measures to prevent them from travelling to the Middle East by traveling by road and pretending to take trips to visit relatives or go on holiday to hide their final destinations.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Congressman Steve King (R-IA) believe the United States must crack down on U.S citizens who join ISIS.  That’s why last month they proposed the Expatriate Terrorists Act.  If passed, this bill would revoke U.S. citizenship from anyone fighting for or supporting ISIS.  The bill is co-sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Joe Manchin (R-WV).

Democrats blocked an earlier version of this bill submitted by Cruz last fall because they claimed it was vague and would affect the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.  The White House did not take a public position on Cruz’s bill but is believed to oppose it.

Congressman Steve King explained the urgency for passing the Expatriate Terrorist Act when he said, “I believe these American terrorists have voluntarily renounced their citizenship upon taking an oath to a foreign terrorist organization.”

Senator Cruz, Congressman King and officials in France and Australia understand the seriousness of their citizens traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight for ISIS and returning home to commit acts of terror.  The Cruz/King bill would send a powerful message that America is prepared to do whatever it takes to defeat ISIS and Americans who join terrorists groups will pay a high price.

Shoebat: The Ottoman Conquest Of The Middle East Begins

By Walid Shoebat (Shoebat Exclusive)

Turkish soldiers launched an overnight raid into neighboring Syria sending 600 ground forces backed by  a combination of 100 tanks and armored vehicles crossing the border near the border town of Kobani. There were also drones and airplanes flew reconnaissance missions overhead as Davutoglu disclosed on Sunday today.

The mission, they claim, is for “saving Turkish soldiers” stuck for months at the tomb of the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, moving the crypt Sunday back to Turkey after ceremonially planting the country’s crescent-and-star flag after destroying the complex where the tomb is located. ISIS who are Wahhabist are notorious for blowing up tombs and do not approve of elevating tombs above the ground or having folks visiting tombs.

But that is not the full scoop.

The military operation commenced as one group traveled to the tomb, some 22 miles from Turkey on the banks of the Euphrates River in Syria’s embattled Aleppo province where the remains where, Davutoglu said while another groupseized an area of Syrian territory only yards from the Turkish border in Syria’s Ashma region, according to a statement from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office.

“Before the Turkish flag was lowered at (the tomb), the Turkish flag started to be waved at another location in Syria,” Davutoglu said.

Turkey is not simply moving the remains of the Ottoman bones back home to Turkey where it belongs, the Turkish Prime Minister emphasized the transfer of the remains is “temporarily moved to Turkey to be buried later back in Syria, and ensuring the security zone in Syrian territory in the town of Ashma, which is only a few kilometers from the border, to later re-transfer the remains of Suleiman Shah back to Syria in the coming days.”

So Turkey now has technically invaded Syria, as Shoebat.com continually predicted will happen, and is camped in Ashma which is Syrian, not Turkish territory, raising its flag there declaring Syrian land as Turkish soil while antagonizing Syria to dare retaliate.

This is what makes this a major news piece.

 

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In reply to the incident, Syria’s official source at the Foreign Ministry denounced what it called a “blatant aggression” by Turkey saying that:

“Turkey is not here only to provide all forms of support and tools for ISIS gangs and other terrorist organizations linked to al-Qaeda, but at the dawn of day they traveled here to show aggression on Syrian territory.”

The Syrians are absolutely correct.

It is for this reason that Syria announced the Turkish military incursion into Syria as “a military invasion of Syrian soil”. That, plus, ISIS has never blown up Ottoman tombs and has always only returned Turkish hostages unharmed while executing all other nationalities.

Turkey is using the tomb to invade Syria since the tomb is considered sovereign territory by Turkey, and they consider their claim to it being protected by a 1921 treaty, but this does not include the new Syrian territory that Turkey is laying claims to at Ashma regionTurkey in fact was caught when leaked recordings of previous plans by Turkey for an invasion using the tomb as an excuse.

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The U.S.-led coalition forces were informed of the Turkish operation after its launch to prevent any casualties, Davutoglu said.

Read more

Also see:

Cultural Suicide: Why Allowing Syrian War Refugees to Enter Western Countries is a Pandora’s Box to More Attacks

February 19, 2015 / /

In its infinite wisdom the Obama administration announced plans to dramatically increase the number of Syrian War refugees being accepted into the confines of our borders. As of this writing, the largest concentrations of resettled refugees are in California, Illinois and Texas. As one would guess, there some serious concerns with the very real (and likely) possibility of terrorists associated with the Islamic State (IS) entering our country under the “refugee” label. DoS claims that “only the small minority who are in the most dire need, including the very young, ailing and elderly, and people who have been persecuted by their government” will be resettled in our country. The problem with that is the “very young” tend to have parents and siblings who tend to follow them – but the Obama administration conveniently leaves out those inconvenient details. DoS also makes the claim that they’re actually going to “screen” applicants, but how well they screened the Boston Bombers (the Russians had warned us about those two) doesn’t inspire much confidence from our staff. Its also worth noting that the Obama administration has been saying that the screening process is more “rigorous” since 2009 – so when was the Boston Bombing again?

U.S. to accept Syrian refugees in greater numbers after slow start

http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-syria-refugees-20141211-story.html

US Officials Admit Concern Over Syrian Refugee Effort

http://abcnews.go.com/International/officials-fear-syrian-refugees-pose-threat-us/story?id=28930114

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Coming soon to a neighborhood near you…
Source: The Daily Telegraph (UK)

Remember, this is the same Obama administration via DHS that lost track of over 6,000 foreigners last year who overstayed their visas. As much as the Obama administration would like for you to believe, the ugly truth is the US government doesn’t have any real checks and balances nor does it have the political will to properly enforce the current immigration laws on the books. People applying for visas of any kind, refugee status/political asylum from countries like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Algeria, Libya, Syria, Iraq – places where most of the populations despise us – red-flags should immediately be raised that should result in the application being promptly rejected. Unfortunately, people working in immigration and customs tend to simply push them along no questions asked – and that’s not even getting into the Pandora’s Box that allowing more Syrian refugees into our country would open.

DHS Loses 6,000

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1580

If you want to get a glimpse into America’s future all one needs to do is to look at Europe. As we discussed in our recent piece titled “The Jews: Europe’s Canary in the Mine on the Growing Jihadist Threat,” we laid out how years of political correctness and failed social experimentation has led to serious problems bubbling to the surface in Europe. Specifically, we showed how the EU members’ refusal to confront the jihadist threat has led to an increase in terror attacks with Denmark used as a case-study. Countries like Denmark, France, Germany, Belgium and the UK have been extremely generous in taking in Syrian War refugees and immigrants from other nations with large jihadist populations. Common sense says that Gulf nations refusing to take in refugees should be a huge red-flag to the US and its European counterparts. Unfortunately it isn’t. We just had a series of attacks in France from DEC 14 – JAN 15 and two more shootings in Denmark over the weekend, yet Europe continues to live with the delusional concept of “multiculturalism.”

A prime example of this is the threat that people just now realized exists from Libya on the other side of the Mediterranean. IS clearly sees the many vulnerabilities inside Europe in terms of how easy it is to gain access to member nations, as demonstrated by calls from the terror organization to infiltrate the continent posing as migrants. Indeed, Libya is a “gateway” to Europe but so are Turkey and Cyprus. Due to EU members being so inviting, the US also runs the risk of failing to notice individuals of Middle Eastern/North African origins who obtained dual-citizenship who attempt to enter our country on a European passport. If these people wanted to truly integrate they wouldn’t be trying to push the issue with “Sharia Enforcement Zones” and forcing everybody to bend over to their cultural demands. The truth is most of the people coming from the above-mentioned countries have no desire to integrate into western society despite being all too happy to receive those welfare checks (like a certain Anjem Choudray). Europe is dying, only the European people and the naive politicians they elected to office don’t yet realize it. If America isn’t careful, our fate will be similar to their’s – and it will happen much sooner than you think. It may sound cold, but allowing these people into our country isn’t worth the risk…

The Jews: Europe’s Canary in the Mine on the Growing Jihadist Threat

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4939

Islamic State ‘planning to use Libya as gateway to Europe’

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11418966/Islamic-State-planning-to-use-Libya-as-gateway-to-Europe.html

Attack in Paris, France Kills 12

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4336

Islamic State: The French Connection

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3875

ISIS Attack Plot Thwarted in Belgium – A Sign of Things to Come?

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1890

Obama ISIS Map

The world burns while President Obama exhibits Nero-like characteristics – just substitute the golf clubs for a fiddle.
Source: The ISIS Study Group

***

Also see Refugee Resettlement Watch archives on Syrian Refugees:

https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/?s=syrian+refugees

Syrian Doctors: ISIS Jihadists ‘Demanding Viagra,’ Lingerie for Wives and Slaves

Islamic State Videos

Islamic State Videos

Breitbart, by DR. PHYLLIS CHESLER, 17 Feb 2015:

ISIS fighters are “buying their wives kinky underwear,” demanding Viagra to better their performance, and subjecting their wives, concubines, and sex slaves to sadistic sexual practices, according to Syrian doctors forced to treat jihadists in conquered territories.

The Daily Mail reports that doctors have been able to relay their witness testimonies through the advocacy group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. Their eyewitness accounts of being forced to treat Islamic State terrorists echo reports from the Iraqi city of Mosul, where doctors are often forced to treat wounded jihadists returning from the front lines.

These men are living day-to-day in an almost post-Holocaust desert of their own making, and yet—perhaps therefore–they are obsessed with sex, frilly underwear, their own impotence, and an insatiable desire to have as many orgasms as possible.

There are their captive brides, beaten for failing to cover even their eyes, prohibited from attending school, shrouded in black ambulatory body bags, and expected to act the part of prostitutes in order to please their brutal and demanding husbands or masters. The women subjected to such tortures range from the hundreds of known Yazidi girls and women forced to live as sex slaves because of their ethnic and religious identity to Western Muslim converts traveling to Syria and Iraq to fulfill the work of a “jihad bride.”

Jihadists from Bin Laden on have developed a reputation for being known pornography addicts. ISIS fighters may be learning some additionally savage tricks from pornography. The proliferation of both child porn and sadistic adult porn has essentially mainstreamed prostitution, as has the popularity of depicting increasingly young women in revealing clothing outside of pornography.

Now, a devil’s host of angry men, losers, porn addicts, ex-convicts, have an outlet to express their sadism towards women. Fighters may be flocking to join the ranks of ISIS not only to bring about a potential Caliphate or to express their hatred towards infidel ways, but also to achieve Paradise Now. Instead of having to become human homicide bombs in order to merit 72 eternal, heavenly virgins, ISIS fighters can have an endless number of virgins right here on earth.

They can treat the Madonna as the Magadalen as a form of revenge against Christianity. They can treat tender virgin Muslim girls as whores—and no one can stop them. They have paid good money for their Muslim brides. They have no roots in the neighborhood and thus, there is no extended family with whom the bride’s family can negotiate.

Joining ISIS might be the best deal in town for sexually starved, sexually ignorant, sexually repressed, unemployed, unemployable, and impoverished men.

All praise to President Al-Sisi for bombing ISIS on behalf of the 21 be-headed Egyptian Christians. All praise to the Gulf States who are involved in doing “something.” All shame is America’s, whose President is still “leading from behind” and refusing to admit that the Islamic State (ISIS) has anything to do with Islam.

ISIS Launches First Wave of Attacks Against al-Asad Airbase as Kirkuk Heats Up

Published on Feb 14, 2015 by Military Today

Islamic State insurgents took control on Thursday of most of the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, threatening an air base where U.S. Marines are training Iraqi troops, officials said.

February 14, 2015 / /

Earlier on Friday the Islamic State (IS) launched the first wave of attacks against Iraqi Army’s (IA) al-Asad Airbase with an attempt involving eight fighters armed with small-arms and SVESTs. Although they managed to breach the perimeter and enter the base, all eight were neutralized by the IA. They were not able to penetrate into the base itself and the 300 US military personnel stationed at the installation were not near the firefight. The area of the base that the suicide bombers gained access was likely part of added security measures emplaced to prevent access to the main facility where the US military personnel were located. An example of this would be such measures as we took at a location where we expanded the perimeter of the installation in question that encompassed a larger area once that security perimeter was pushed out. The area in-between was not the actual “base,” but to a reporter it may have seemed that it was. This is likely what the attackers had gained access to and nothing more.

Bombers make it onto Iraq base used by U.S. troops

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/suicide-bombers-iraq-ain-al-assad-airbase-us-marines-near-isis/

U.S.: Iraqi forces repel attack on al-Asad air base

http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/pentagon/2015/02/13/us-iraqi-forces-repel-attack-on-al-asad-air-base/23351141/

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Source: The Washington Post

US Army Apaches have been seeing heavy use in the battle of Khan al-Baghdadi that resulted in the last remnants of the IA presence around al-Asad Airbase collapsing. Despite DoD’s efforts to put the best possible spin on this attack, the truth is this was only the opening shots of a slow yet methodical effort to overrun the base. The installation itself is enormous that would likely take months to completely secure much like last year’s siege of the Syrian Army 17th Division’s Garrison north of Raqqa. IS has chosen to completely surround and isolate al-Asad Airbase from by seizing all of the surrounding towns and villages. al-Baghdadi was the last of a series of defensive positions the IA was desperately trying to hold in the immediate area.

Apache participates in fighting ISIL in Anbar

http://www.iraqinews.com/features/apache-participates-in-fighting-isil-in-anbar/

Islamic State Seizes Town of Khan al-Baghdadi, Threatens US Marines at Ayn al-Asad

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4755

Syrian Army 17th Division Barracks Overrun by Islamic State

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=229

Interview With a Surviving Member of the Syrian Army’s 17th Division

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=537

Inside the Islamic State (2nd Installment from Vice News)

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=733

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Locals in Khan al-Baghdadi after the IA was driven out of the town.
Source: Associated Press

IS has been systematically driving out the IA from the areas in the surrounding towns and villages near al-Asad for over the past year. What the IA didn’t lose from casualties it lost in mass desertions. The IP has had it even worse. Perhaps the most significant developments to occur in the province is the seizing of Fallujah (with the locals welcoming IS with open arms), the deployment of Shia militias to reinforce the garrison at al-Asad Airbase and the fall of Camp Saqlawiyah. In the case of Camp Saqlawiyah, IS fighters used confiscated IA vehicles, uniforms and radios to pass as reinforcements for the beleaguered base defenders. Thinking the IS column were IA reinforcements, they were granted entry into the base at which time one of the Humvees that was converted into a VBIED detonated along with some of the fighters who were wearing body armor converted into SVESTS. The al-Asad attackers were wearing IA uniforms and probably were able to fool some of the security checkpoints in the outer perimeter into thinking they were returning from a presence patrol. We assess IS was testing response times and security posture in and around the base. As we stated above, this latest attack was only the beginning. Key indicators of IS preparing to launch the main assault on al-Asad Airbase are movements of heavy weapons and armor from Aleppo into Western Iraq. In fact the recent interdiction of such heavy weapons earlier – vehicles in particular – in al-Qaim suggests that such efforts may already be underway.

Islamic State Flips Script: Irregular Warefare Redux

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2101

Shia Militias Sent to Reinforce al-Asad Airbase – IA on Verge of Collapse

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2758

U.S.-led forces launch 26 air strikes in Syria, Iraq: U.S. military

http://news.yahoo.com/u-led-forces-launch-26-air-strikes-syria-140714637.html;_ylt=AwrBEiT47d5UMyMA7ofQtDMD

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IS fighters with confiscated armor courtesy of the IA
Source: al-Anbar News

Meanwhile in Northern Iraq, IS launched an offensive targeting Kirkuk and the surrounding areas last month. The offensive is multi-pronged and even seized the Khabbaz Gas and Oil Separation Plant, although temporarily. As it stands, the KRG Peshmerga lack the manpower to drive IS from the Zaab Triangle or its stronghold Hawijah that serves as the major support hub for the attacks targeting Peshmerga forces in Kirkuk. The Peshmerga are also heavily dependent on US close-air support and currently lack the armor assets to counter the heavy weaponry that IS has confiscated from the IA and Syrian Army. So far, the Kurds are able to maintain a hold on their positions but they’re going to need a lot more support from the US (or Iran, who has been stepping up air shipments of weapons and ammo) to gain an edge. Since the collapse of the IA in Northern Iraq, the KRG Peshmerga have been in control of Kirkuk and have set up a network of defensive positions, trenches and tank tank ditches to make up for their limited armored assets and personnel. As good as the Peshmerga are, however, they can only hold out for so long.

In Iraq, Kirkuk Remains a Question Mark

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-iraq-kirkuk-remains-a-question-mark/2015/02/13/fce51c46-b3a3-11e4-854b-a38d13486ba1_story.html

Kurdish fighters battle equipment woes as well as ISIS in northern Iraq

http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/09/middleeast/kurds-iraq-isis/

ISIS launches attack on oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk

http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/30/middleeast/isis-attack/

Iran Begins Arming KRG Peshmerga

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=965

KRG Peshmerga on the Defensive

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=676

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KRG Peshmerga manning positions along the outer-perimeter of Kirkuk
Source: World Crunch

If you thought that the current IS offensives targeting Kirkuk and al-Asad Airbase – two of the most critical pieces of real estate for allied forces – wasn’t a coincidence, then you thought right. Both locations must be defended at all costs, and that is precisely why IS has chosen now as the time to make the push to seize them. We’ve seen more reporting of additional personnel arrive from Raqqa to reinforce Mosul and we’re seeing indicators of more heavy weapons being brought in. Applying additional pressure on these two locations will have a profound impact on the elements who will play the biggest role in the upcoming offensive to retake Mosul – the GOI and the KRG. As we’ve discussed in previous articles, the IA doesn’t have enough troops freed up to support the planned offensives to retake Tikrit, Fallujah, Ramadi or Mosul since most IA units are being kept in defensive positions in and around Baghdad. Reallocating additional units to support any of these operations or reinforce al-Asad will create more vulnerabilities to Baghdad that IS will most certainly exploit. Regarding Baghdad, the sleeper cells will be increasing their attacks against the security forces, Shia militias, Shia neighborhoods and the Green Zone. We also discussed how IS would likely launch additional attacks on al-Asad, Kirkuk, Also keep in mind that al-Asad is the last major IA base in Anbar and the last thing standing in IS’ way to massing for an offensive on the capital itself, although it will take a few months to completely control the airbase. As we get closer to MAR, we will likely see the attacks on al-Asad begin to increase in intensity and frequency against the base and Kirkuk. The likelihood of a repeat of the Camp Saqlawiyah attack is assessed to be HIGH as of this writing. As the Blue Forces at al-Asad, we have units in position to respond if given the green light – the question is whether the President (through his Secretary of Defense) will allow it. The handling of the attack of our consulate in Benghazi doesn’t inspire much confidence. Those combat troops that “aren’t combat troops” who most certainly do have “boots on the ground” and will likely find themselves engaging the enemy. Soon.

IA Preps to Take Mosul as Kings Rage Continues

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4699

GOI Has Big Plans to Retake The Country From ISIS – Can They Pull it Off???

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4565

Other Related Articles:

Iraqi Army Facing Heavy Resistance in Anbar: Counter-Offensive Stalls

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3758

ISIS: Regained the Initiative in Northern Iraq

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3794

Pro-Government Tribal Forces in Anbar Province Running Out of Steam

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3626

ISIS: Still Going Strong Despite Coalition Efforts

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3154

ISIS Increases Pressure on Baghdad’s Green Zone – Is the US Government Taking Notice?

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=3501

US Begins Using AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopters Against ISIS Northeast of Fallujah

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2439

Update on the Baghdad and Kobane Fronts

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2516

Fortress Baghdad 4

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=2354

Fortress Baghdad III

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=612

Fortress Baghdad II

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=576

Fortress Baghdad

http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=455

Don’t Authorize Obama’s War

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Washington Free Beacon, by Matthew Continetti, February 13, 2015 

The authorization for the use of military force against ISIS that the Obama administration sent Congress this week is not worthy of the name. Its language is far more about what the president won’t do against the terrorist army that controls much of Syria and Iraq—limits on ground troops and a sunset provision for the authorization after three years—than what he will do. Congress should reject it.

If the threat of ISIS is as dire as the president says it is in the preamble of his resolution, if ISIS really does pose “a grave threat to the people and territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria, regional stability, and the national security interests of the United States and its allies and partners,” if ISIS really does “intend to conduct terrorist attacks internationally, including against the United States, its citizens, and interests,” then not only does the president already have the authority to strike granted to him by Article II of the Constitution and the 2001 and 2002 war resolutions, he also should not cavil or hesitate in unleashing every means at his disposal to confront and defeat the enemy. Making war is exactly what Obama should have been doing at least since last June when ISIS raised the black flag over the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Yet the urgency and drama with which the president and his advisers describe the actions and intentions of ISIS is remarkably disproportionate to their campaign against it so far: 2,600 U.S. troops in Iraq to act as advisers to the Iraqis and Kurds, a rather desultory campaign of airstrikes that hasfailed to degrade ISIS seriously, an admission from the vice president that ISIS probably won’t be dislodged from its redoubt in Syria because “there are no boots on the ground,” and a dispiriting, academic, wishy-washy attempt by U.S. defense bureaucrats to figure out “what makes the Islamic State so dangerous,” as well as the typical self-congratulation and smarm for assembling and maintaining an “international coalition” of allies most of whom do nothing.

This la-di-da attitude to the fight has not gone unnoticed by the Iraqis, who want the Americans to do more but, in the absence of such aid, have turned to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. And the few Syrians left alive who desire more for their charnel house of a country than a frozen conflict between a psychopath who gasses people and a band of zealots who behead them continue to wait for America to make good on its promises of arms and assistance. The administration is quick to publicize the allied victory in the northern Syrian city of Kobani, which came at the cost of more or less razing to the ground this former home to 45,000 Kurds. Such positive headlines are rare, however. Just yesterday ISIS seized a town in Western Iraq from which it can threaten directly U.S. troops.

President Obama is losing the war against ISIS because he is unwilling to commit the resources necessary to the fight: a significant deployment of ground troops, a massive ratcheting up of the air campaign, arms shipments and U.S. bases for the Kurds, an escalation of air strikes to include Syrian air defenses, and above all the weapons, training, and financial and tactical assistance to the “farmers, dentists, and folks who have never fought before” but remain willing to fight not only Assad but also the terrorists who control much of their country.

Our ISIS problem is a consequence of the American failure to respond effectively to our almost four-years-old Syrian problem. ISIS is less the Syrian dictator’s opponent than his unconventional ally, and as long as Assad remains in power so will the sectarian and political furies that gave rise to ISIS at the beginning of the war. And yet it is impossible to believe that Obama will uproot the weed responsible for some 300,000 dead, millions of refugees, use of WMD, and the Caliphate so long as his strategic goals are détente with Iran and a franchising of Middle East “security” to the mullahs.

If I were a member of Congress I happily would vote down Obama’s war resolution for all of these reasons. There is no cause to assent to the president’s demand for a war authority he does not want, does not need, and probably will not use. I also cannot help thinking that the presidential request is little more than a trap, a bone thrown in the direction of the cloakroom to distract from the collapse of America’s position in the Middle East and the approaching deadline for nuclear talks with Iran. How better to provoke infighting among both Republicans and Democrats, to switch the debate from sanctions against Iran to “Rand Paul versus Marco Rubio for the soul of the GOP,” than to start a debate over presidential war powers as the war is going on.

Indeed, a congressional rebuke of Obama on the grounds that his proposal does not go far enough is more likely to make him rethink his approach than bipartisan passage or an extended period of debate and modification and attempts to “improve” his language. And even if such a rethinking does not occur, if Obama goes ahead with his strategy based on his current authorities, the Republicans would pay no price. Say that Obama is not looking to distract the Congress with his war authorization but to win congressional buy-in for his policy through the end of his presidency. How is the country made more secure, how is the American interest furthered, by Republican authorization of a flawed strategy? Would the Democrats have gone along with Bush or participated in earnest and collegial discussions with his administration if he had asked Congress to authorize his surge of troops to Iraq in 2007? You can stop laughing.

It was unanimous opposition to the war in Iraq that helped the Democrats win the Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008. And it was the resurgence of the national security issue after the border crisis, ISIS beheadings of Americans, and the outbreak of Ebola on American soil that helped Republicans retake the Senate in 2014. For the GOP now to throw away its critical stance by adopting or seeking to improve the president’s authorization for the use of force would be political folly (and therefore entirely consistent with the party’s history). Far better for us all if the Congress refused the president precisely because he is unserious and untrustworthy with the security of the United States and the world, and spent the remaining two years of his presidency making the case publicly and robustly for the roll back of ISIS and the removal of Assad, an end to the Iranian nuclear program, a military buildup, and a renewal of the alliance system and of American support for Western principles of liberal democracy. That way the voters will be absolutely certain next year that there is a substantive and consequential choice to be made about the future of American foreign policy and security. They will see the results of Obama’s policy of retreat and appeasement throughout the world. And Hillary Clinton won’t be able to say, well, the Republican Congress supported the president, so why don’t you?

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WH: Obama Concluded 3 Years is Reasonable ‘To Put in Place a Strategy’ Against Islamic State

 

Also see:

Islamic State Seizes Town of Khan al-Baghdadi, Threaten US Marines at Ayn al-Asad

February 13, 2015 /

The Islamic State has seized the key town of Khan al-Baghdadi near the strategic airbase of Ayn al-Asad in al-Anbar Province near Hit. There are some 320 US Marines stationed at the facility along with Special Operations Forces training the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Islamic State has been battling for control of the area around al-Baghdadi for some time. Ayn al-Asad is the last major installation the Iraqi government has in al-Anbar Province.

Khan Al-Baghdadi is approximately 85 kilometers northwest of Ramadi and about 35 kilometers northwest of Hit. According to the district manager of the district about 90% of Khan al-Baghdadi’s district is now under control of the Islamic State. It is roughly 9 kilometers from Khan al-Baghdadi to Ayn al-Asad Air Base. The town is also about 50 Kilometers west of Tharthar Lake.

AynAlAsadBase

Ayn al-Asad Air Base

Source: The Institute for the Study of War

Ayn al-Asad is of strategic importance to the Islamic State, the ISF and the United States. The base is one of the last major strongholds still held by the IA in the province after the fall of other installations and district headquarters such as Camp Saqlawiyah back in September 2014. The Islamic State would want to seize the base due to its weapons and the fact that there is a significant US presence there. The capture of any US personnel let alone several hundred would be a propaganda bonanza that Islamic State would go crazy over. In many of the instances where the Islamic State had captured a major installation a gruesome video would shortly appear of the captured military personnel being executed.

Ayn al-Asad is of great importance to the government of Iraq (GOI) for multiple reasons. It is a major facility to conduct training, logistics, operations and it is also a symbol of the government presence in al-Anbar. Losing it to the Islamic State would be an embarrassing and devastating setback. The loss of a key facility being used by US military personnel to retrain ISF and try to reinvigorate their fight against Islamic State would literally crush the already weak morale that the ISF have. This would also have a devastating effect on the upcoming push to drive Islamic State out of Mosul as it would cripple the units with an almost paralysis of epidemic fear that would surely spread. There is also training being conducted with local tribal militias.

For the United States, the defense of Ayn al-Asad must hold at all cost. This is the Helms Deep of this fight if Ayn al-Asad fell with hundreds of US military personnel trapped inside the results would be catastrophic militarily and the Information Operations campaign of the Islamic State would set ablaze like it had not been seen to date. The US must take every available precaution to ensure the safety and security of the US forces at Ayn al-Asad to prevent even the appearance of it seeming to be in any danger of falling.

The base has come under pressure before back in December when Islamic State militants attempted to launch an offensive on the base but were repelled before they could really make an effort. The base has come under indirect fire at least once in recent months also. So, it is likely that any attempt by Islamic State to push an offensive on the base would be met with heavy resistance from the US personnel on the installation and by a devastating aerial bombardment far beyond what we saw in Kobane.

The US has conducted some airstrikes in the area around the town of Khan al-Baghdadi which has at least temporarily halted any advance towards Ayn al-Asad. Islamic State fighters still hold the council headquarters in the town. Some reports indicate that a group of militants attempted to attack the base, but were unable to break into it. Likely an attempt to test to the bases defenses as it is pretty well fortified. The US Marines there are training the Iraqi 7th Division at the base.

We had written a previous article about the desire of the Islamic State to seize control of Ayn al-Asad Air Base and the Iraqi Government sending Shi’a militia to aid in the defense of the base back in November: Shia Militias Sent To Reinforce al-Asad Airbase-IA On Verge Of Collapse

Assessment: US forces need to beef up assets to safeguard and ensure security of al-Assad Air Base. As we have discussed the significance of the base is vitally important to all three elements in the fight. The Islamic State would gain not only weapons but the strategic victory of capturing American forces if the base fell and the I/O campaign that would follow and the “bargaining” that they would offer in exchange for “peace” with President Obama would be a farce as we’ve seen in every other case of their offers of exchange. Immediately, step up airstrikes around Khan al-Baghdadi and not only degrade the Islamic State presence, but absolutely destroy it. Send out the ISF to sweep up the remains as confidence targets so they become more assured in their ability to defeat their enemy. It is likely that the US would push major assets to protect Ayn al-Asad should Islamic State make another attempt at it such as it did in December 2014. That attempt was shut down rather quickly.

Islamic State will seriously be eyeing the potential prize of Ayn al-Asad for all of the reasons mentioned above. The I/O campaign alone would bolster their recruiter efforts exponentially at the site of captured Americans. There is no negotiation with these people Mr. President, you have taken a step in the right direction, but we also strongly urge that you bring all of our coalition partners together and define the collective strategy as our nation and other nations did in order to achieve victory in WWII. We need that same type of leadership today and our allies need it as well, but they also must leaders in this fight. Something else to consider is that Islamic State has began moving some heavy assets in Syria and those assets could possibly be moving towards al-Anbar, if those assets are moving towards al-Anbar it would be wise for them to be interdicted before they arrive as they would assuredly be used in any offensive on Ayn al-Asad. The coming several days or weeks will be indicative of what Islamic State intends to do. If anything starts to occur from the west of the base then that would likely confirm those heavy weapons that were moved in Syria recently were not moved as a result of a defeat at Kobane, but as a result of a shifting of strategy towards al-Anbar once again.

Source Articles:

Islamic State Advances Near Iraq Base Where US Advisers are Stationed

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/islamic-state-advances-near-iraq-base-where-us-advisers-are-stationed/2015/02/12/b543acf8-b2eb-11e4-bf39-5560f3918d4b_story.html

ISIS Fighters Reportedly Seize Parts of Iraqi Town, Threatening US Marine Base

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/12/isis-iraq-al-baghdadi_n_6674538.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592